Breaking News
More () »

Man arrested for 1996 homicide of Denver woman is likely a serial killer

DNA links Ricky Dawson to homicides in two other states. He was serving time for one of the killings when he was identified as a suspect in the Denver case.

DENVER — A 62-year-old man, now facing first-degree murder charges for the 1996 death of a Denver woman, was serving time in Florida for a homicide there when he was identified as a suspect in the Denver case through DNA.

Ricky Dawson, who is accused of killing 35-year-old Terri Turachak, was extradited from Florida to Colorado and appeared in court Thursday for an advisement hearing. 

He is charged with:

  • First-degree murder
  • Attempted sexual assault 

Turachak's body was found in her apartment on East 17th Avenue on Oct. 5, 1996, by Denver police and medical personnel. According to the autopsy report, Turachak died from strangulation and blunt force trauma to her head.

"My hope would be that he would get the death penalty but I know that's not possible in Colorado," said Sarah Oakland, Turachak's daughter. "So think we're all hoping that he rots in jail and we wanted to let him know that we didn't forget."

Credit: KUSA
Terri Turachak

Police were notified in August 2004 of a CODIS DNA match to Dawson, who was already in custody for a 2001 sexual assault and homicide in Panama City, Florida, according to an arrest affidavit from Denver Police (DPD). Dawson eventually pleaded guilty in the Florida case to a charge of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years.

That same year, DPD also learned of a CODIS DNA match for Dawson related to a sexual assault/homicide case in Seattle from May 28, 2000. In that case, the victim's injuries and cause of death were similar to Turachak's case, the arrest affidavit says.

According to a prior 9NEWS report, police announced in 2004 that the case was solved.

Dawson is next due in court on March 23.

Credit: DPD
Ricky Dawson

DPD detectives conducted a criminal background check for Dawson and found that he was arrested in Denver in August and September of 1996. Those records showed that he was in the Denver area around the time that Turachak was killed. 

According to the affidavit, a DPD detective traveled to Florida in December 2004 and interviewed Dawson. Dawson provided a statement, but it's unknown what he said because the information is redacted from the affidavit.

SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Colorado cold cases  

Before You Leave, Check This Out